“Theres no silver bullet for brand safety” – Adobe Ad Cloud on programmatic

Our Programmatic Lunch later this month will bring together stakeholders from across the marketing industry, gathering the entire programmatic chain in a single place to discuss the challenges and opportunities that surround this technology, and how every part of the ecosystem can benefit from improved targeting, more efficient ad spending, and more personalised creative.

Ahead of the Programmatic Lunch, we spoke with Phil Duffield, managing director of Ad Cloud for EMEA at Adobe, our headline partner for the event, about why transparency has become the biggest topic in the industry, the looming spectre of GDPR and how programmatic and creativity mix.

“Obviously with all the brand safety issues we’ve seen, that’s pushed [creativity] into the limelight, and if you look at the ecosystem now, being able to reach your audience, the tools to do that have increased exponentially, but it’s still so fragmented,” said Duffield.

“That’s why we believe what we’re doing here is really powerful. We believe we can help brands and advertisers create experiences for their consumers, and what I mean by that is being creatively engaging, and making sure the message is personally relevant, and also being contextually authentic.

“We’re very uniquely positioned for that. Obviously we have our software, our technology, but we’re integrated with the Adobe Audience Manager and Analytics platform, which enables us to activate those data segments in our platform and be a lot more accurate than anyone else; we’re seeing 90 per cent plus match rates. And then we obviously have our DCO product that enables us to be dynamic in the creative we’re serving.

“So once you bring all that into the mix, the DCO, the data that we have at our fingertips, and the fact that we’re an omnichannel DSP that enables us to activate across social, search, native, display and video, we can be very powerful in what we can give to our brands.”

According to Duffield, integrating creativity tools into programmatic will be the true differentiator between solutions as the ecosystem refines itself, and people want to move beyond targeting with the data they have available.

“It’s about being smart. This is why we’re leveraging what we believe will be the future and really powerful for advertisers, and that’s creating an omnichannel platform and utilising data. Programmatic in itself will continue to grow, but advertisers will want technology to become smarter to allow them to create these experiences for their audiences.

“We are very well placed to do that at Adobe because we don’t just have the Ad Cloud, we have the Experience Cloud, we have the Creative Cloud, we have the Marketing Cloud. There’s a lot of tools in our armoury that we can use to create many opportunities and experiences for advertisers, and I think that’s a really powerful message.”

The question of how to use data in the right way is especially pertinent with GDPR around the corner, and while Duffield is confident that Adobe is prepared for its impact, he says that the industry overall needs to shape up.

“We’ve seen a lot of consolidation over the past year, and I think that will only continue. I think with the impact of GDPR, we may see consolidation. As a company, Adobe is very much ‘armed and ready’ for GDPR, but as an industry, I don’t think everyone’s as prepared as they should be.

“As Adobe, we’re very prepared, and we have to be. We know that we have to be extremely robust on GDPR, and we will be, and I think people will know that. We’ll communicate with our clients and our advertisers around what we’re doing, so they’re fully aware of how compliant Adobe is, and that we will be fully compliant and be ready for when GDPR launches.”

Duffield cites Adobes open communication with clients as the cornerstone of its efforts to foster transparency in the industry and reassure advertisers that brand safety is constantly improving when it comes to programmatic.

“I’ll start by saying – there’s no silver bullet for brand safety. In every business, wherever there’s technology and there’s money, there’s the issue with brand safety and ad fraud, but I think as a business, we have always led from the front around transparency and brand safety. As TubeMogul we led the way with brand safety, and with Adobe we continue to do that. We continue to do that with our third-party partnerships, we continue to do that with our messaging; I think transparency is something the company was built on, and that we continue to leverage.

“The announcement around our SSP transparency just shows you, as a business, that we want to be leading the industry around this. We believe it’s an important topic, and we believe that we can lead the way in driving it forward. Because we are very upfront about it and very transparent about it, our clients understand that we are on the front foot with brand safety, but that doesn’t mean we can take our eye off the ball.

“We have to continue to evolve, continue to develop, and continue to integrate with our third-party partners around this. As I said earlier, there isn’t a silver bullet, and as fast as we develop and move to protect ourselves, the guys on the other end that are building ad fraud tools and ways to get around this continue to develop technology as well. It’s something that we take extremely seriously, and we work very closely with our advertisers and our brands to ensure they understand what we’re doing to protect them, so that they’re fully aware and we communicate everything we do around that area.”

Looking to the future, Duffield believes that as the programmatic chain continues to emerge, some of the more fringe technologies and use cases will move to the centre and see more investment over the next year.

“There’s a lot of talk right now around blockchain, and how that influences the ad tech world and specifically brand safety and ad fraud. You’ll see a lot more happening in that space in the coming year, and another area is supply chain optimisation, which is becoming more of a topic around the industry. They’ve been discussed a lot already, but I think you’ll find them coming to a head next year.

“For years, people have been talking about programmatic TV and not really being very clear about what it means. Obviously in the US, we are a leader in true programmatic linear TV, and we’ve been working in that space for a while in the US. Outside of the US, into Europe and the UK, it’s more challenging because the data is not readily available, and we don’t have the scale of TV networks that is available in the US, so we need to be a lot more strategic about true linear TV.

“Those discussions are happening, and I think it’s progressing in the right direction, but we’re still not there yet. I think where the opportunity is, and somewhere that we’re going to be focusing on, is OTT, the growth of OTT. Our experience has been in video, so our ability to execute OTT is going to increase in the coming year.

“We’ve seen the rise of programmatic, and I don’t think that’s going to go away, but I think the dynamic’s going to shift to ‘how do we become smarter, how do we become better at leveraging the programmatic software and making it work harder for our return on investment’, and we believe you can do that.”

The Programmatic Lunch takes place on 24 November at The Mayfair Hotel in London. We’re bringing together some of the UK’s top programmatic minds from across the whole value chain to talk through some of the big issues in the space, connect with each other, and enjoy a spectacular lunch.

Click here to book your place at the event, and join representatives from firms including News UK, Spotify, Oath, Teads, The Media Trust, LinkedIn, Havas, Thomson Reuters, Amobee, Celtra, OpenX and more.